With the MLB trade deadline less than two months away, eight teams are already considered sellers. Seven more could be buyers or sellers depending on their play between now and Aug. 2. That leaves 15 teams, half the league, as buyers at this point.
Here is my early rundown of the first group — the clear sellers — and what they have to offer the contending teams vying to make an expanded postseason field. Let’s look at the players who will be available on the trade market and, in some cases, the acquiring teams who would be good fits.
The Orioles’ biggest trade chip will be first baseman/outfielder/DH Trey Mancini. He is eligible for free agency after the season and there’s no indication Baltimore will extend him before the deadline. Mancini, 30, has slashed .305/.374/.422 with eight doubles and four home runs this season, and he would lengthen any contender’s lineup. The Padres, Giants and Brewers could be a trade match.
Veteran second baseman Rougned Odor, back-of-the-rotation starter Jordan Lyles and flame-throwing closer Jorge López are three other players the Orioles could dangle. López has converted six of eight save opportunities with a 1.05 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old righty might bring back a strong prospect or two.
Willson Contreras is the Cubs’ most valuable trade piece and the best catcher expected to be dealt at the deadline. Chicago’s window to sign Contreras long term is dwindling, so trading him now to help its rebuild and then trying again to sign him in the offseason, when he reaches free agency, is probably the best strategy at this point. Contreras, 30, would be an all-around upgrade at catcher for several contending teams such as the Mets, Astros, Padres and Yankees.
Reliever David Robertson is the other Cubs player likely to be moved. Robertson is a great comeback story after a long road back from Tommy John surgery and has converted seven of nine save opportunities with a 1.86 ERA in 18 appearances. The Cubs are expected to at least listen to offers on the versatile Ian Happ and third baseman Patrick Wisdom. Chicago also could offer right-hander Kyle Hendricks and lefties Wade Miley and Drew Smyly, both of whom are on the injured list, to teams in the market for back-of-the-rotation types.
The Reds had to be thrilled with right-hander Luis Castillo’s strong outing Tuesday at Fenway Park, especially because so many contending teams were evaluating his performance. Castillo, 29, could end up being the best starting pitcher traded at the deadline and could bring back the best prospect haul. The Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Braves and Angels should all be in play on Castillo, who won’t be a free agent until after next season.